At the beginning of the new year, a new rule will require hospitals nationwide to make their prices available online.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services hopes the new rule will give patients more information about the cost of health care so they can make informed decisions.
The rule set to take effect on January 1 applies mainly to Medicare patients and providers, but officials believe it will be used by health care systems across the country. Hospitals are currently required to disclose their prices but the new rule requires those prices to be posted online in a format that can be processed by computers.
According to a statement from the Huntsville Hospital Health System, they will start posting standard charges online beginning in January of 2019. Their complete statement is below:
"These listed dollar amounts are the gross charges to provide a particular service, supply, or drug and do not reflect what the hospital is paid or what patients will ultimately pay. The information is intended to be useful for consumers to better understand hospital billing.
Across the country hospital charges vary based on a variety of factors including negotiated payments, average wage index by geographic area, drug and supply costs, and the amount of uncompensated care. We encourage patients to review the standard hospital charges online and, if they have health insurance talk with their insurance provider to determine out-of-pocket responsibilities for meeting deductibles and any copayments due at the time of service. For uninsured patients Huntsville Hospital Health System offers financial assistance programs for reduced or free care for patients meeting certain income criteria."